Pimento Cheese

There is a part of my personality that I will call Hostess Cassie. I love taking care of people in our home; for dinner, for happy hour, for the weekend – come and see me and let me feed you. Hugh would sometimes call this part of my personality Crazy Cassie, because I have a problem – I can’t not make too much food. At our house, hosting prep involves lists and timelines and multiple trips to multiple stores and hours in kitchen. No complaints from me, as I love it, but it can be a little much for the other people who live here.

I come by it honestly. When Hugh and I go to visit my parents, the refrigerator is literally overflowing with everything we love to eat. As a little girl, I remember helping my Mom get the food ready for a dinner with friends. As I was setting the appetizers out, my Mom kept piling the serving plates higher with food, and she said, “It should look always look like there is plenty of food.” Well, let me assure you, my little Southern-self took that message and ingrained it deep into my future hostess list of rules.

When Hugh and I first started living together and, subsequently, having friends over for dinner, I would feel compelled to make at least three appetizers, from scratch. Which resulted in me running around like a lunatic until the second the doorbell rang. And then, by the time we would all sit down for dinner, everyone would be half-full already from the massive appetizer spread.

I would love to say I naturally saw the excess of my ways and toned it down. And I kind of did. I had a baby. And suddenly my time became much more precious. Now, there is a strict one appetizer rule in our house. In addition to the fact that I want to spend less than fifteen minutes putting it together, I want it to be really good.

Enter, my Pimento Cheese. Unless you live under a rock, you know that Pimento Cheese is having a real heyday right now. Rightfully so, seeing that it is a can’t-go-wrong combination of mayonnaise and cheese. Really, is there any way it could not be good?

Plus, it takes ten minutes to make, tastes better after a night in the fridge, and is always the first thing to go at a party.

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese
makes approximately 2 cups

If we’re serving this as an appetizer, we serve it with water table crackers and celery sticks for dipping. And, lately we’ve been loving it on buffalo pretzel crisps (available near the deli section of Publix). But don’t just serve it as a starter – Pimento Cheese is also great on a burger or as the cheese component of a grilled cheese sandwich. Or, with a spoon from the container with the refrigerator door open when no one is looking…

8oz extra-sharp white cheddar, grated
8oz extra-sharp yellow cheddar, grated
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
4oz jar chopped pimentos, undrained
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash hot sauce
Black pepper to taste (usually I do about 10 grinds from my pepper grinder)

In a medium bowl, mix cheese and mayonnaise with a wooden spoon. Add pimentos (with liquid) and remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add more mayonnaise by the tablespoon if dry.

Refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight. The longer it sets, the better it gets. Within reason, of course.

Eat it up!

Do not buy pre-shredded cheese (ever, but especially for a recipe in which cheese is a main ingredient). Buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself. It will only take a few minutes to do by hand and it tastes so much better. I always use the Cabot Seriously Sharp for both my white and yellow cheddar. And Duke’s is the only mayo we keep in our kitchen.